I am a non-aboriginal woman publicly declaring my support for the Idle No More movement. I urge others to do the same.
It’s inspiring to witness collective action by people so severely impacted by social injustice and yet so determined to end the erosion of their rights and the exploitation and destruction of their lands. It’s also heartening to witness recent court rulings, both territorial and federal, which speak to governments’ responsibility to abide by their agreements with aboriginal peoples. Given our deplorable history of colonization, one would expect that existing treaties and agreements with aboriginal governments would now be considered a sacred trust. Not so.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s omnibus budget – a major attack on democratic process – undermines both aboriginal rights and environmental regulations. Its removal of protection for countless Canadian lakes and rivers conveniently coincides with findings of widespread toxic pollution directly attributable to tarsands operations.
Aboriginal people will be the first, but not the last, to suffer the dire consequences of this contamination. It seems we can always count on right-wing governments to attack any impediments to unchecked resource extraction.
Pasloski’s government, like Harper’s, views agreements with First Nations, as well as environmental regulations, as nothing but troublesome irritants to be removed. Likewise, democratic processes, such as the Peel planning commission’s lengthy consultations, are blatantly subverted when they oppose the government’s position – in this case sacrificing one of the last great wilderness watersheds of the world to corporate exploitation.
Never mind that the vast majority of Yukoners, aboriginal and non-aboriginal, want secure protection for this invaluable area and an opportunity to do things differently. But this government is not adverse to using underhanded methods to get its way, e.g. the greenwashing of its alternative land-use maps for the Peel.
In a clear attempt to mislead the public, their maps use the same green used in the Peel planning commission’s designation of full protection, for the vast areas they actually want opened to industrial development. So much for integrity and transparency in government.
When I consider what we’re up against, I’m thankful for the life-affirming values that sustain and motivate so many aboriginal people, environmentalists, and human rights advocates worldwide, people who recognize that governments’ embrace of global corporate interests can only result in a bleak future of environmental cataclysm, war and suffering.
All of us, regardless of ethnic heritage, need to come together to challenge the status quo. Political processes are not working in ways that benefit the average person, and certainly not aboriginal people or the life-sustaining processes of the planet.
Given the lack of truly democratic structures, like systems of proportional representation, how can we realistically expect to achieve meaningful change through traditional political structures? We see how unresponsive and how lacking in empathy governments have become under corporate capitalism. It’s little wonder that aboriginal people are taking to the streets.
Non-violent resistance is the greatest leverage we have. As Chris Hedges has observed, “Either you join the revolt or you stand on the wrong side of history.”